Before foul trouble derailed WSU, it threatened to blow out SIU in the first half.
The Shockers led 30-19 with 8:31 to play. WSU committed one turnover in those 11-plus minutes and its offense worked efficiently. Garrett Stutz scored six points and the Shockers made four of their first six threes.
“Stutz really started us off scoring the ball inside, and it got a lot of us open,” guard Joe Ragland said. We try to get him the ball and let him go to work. He’s the leader of this offense that we have.”
That foul trouble forced WSU coach Gregg Marshall to go deeper into his bench than usual late in the first half. Freshmen Jake White and Tekele Cotton and center Ehimen Orukpe played most of the final six minutes, joined by seniors Ragland, David Kyles and Toure Murry.
That group contributed to a 6-2 run that gave WSU a 36-24 lead. Then SIU took advantage of the inexperience to cut the margin to five points, 38-33. White turned the ball over on a drive to the basket and gave up an offensive rebound to SIU’s Mamadou Seck. Orukpe missed a shot at the rim. But White scored in the final seconds on a pass from Ragland to give WSU a 40-33 halftime lead.
“That was survival,” Marshall said.
This group of WSU four-year seniors departed SIU Arena for the final time with a 3-1 record after a third straight road victory over the Salukis.
WSU first played at SIU in 1965, and the only other group to win three in a row at SIU Arena was the Gene Smithson teams from 1980-83. After an overtime loss in 1984, WSU won in three of its next four trips.
WSU didn’t win in Carbondale from 1999-2010, a streak of 11 losses.
WSU president Don Beggs and Shirley, his wife, attended Saturday’s game. Beggs spent 32 years at SIU in a variety of positions, incuding chancellor, before coming to WSU in 1999. The Beggs received a standing ovation during a first-half timeout. . . . WSU limited SIU to seven free throws in the second half after the Salukis made 11 of 16 in the first half.æ.æ.æ. WSU has shot 50 percent or better from the field in three of its four MVC games.
-- Paul Suellentrop